USF remains undefeated with clutch wins
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 22:09
Second-half scoring was the story once again for the 2nd-ranked USF men’s soccer team, as it picked up two clutch weekend wins on the road at the Hurricane Classic, getting off to a 3-0 start this season.
The tournament kicked off Friday night with the Bulls struggling early to find the upper hand over No. 20 SMU in a game that went scoreless into the second half. However, patience proved its worth when in the 74th minute, junior defender Ben Sweat found himself alone six yards out of the net to put away the Mustangs. Sweat has two goals in the season — his first was the second-half score in the Bulls’ home opener over Michigan.
“It was a confidence boost for me, just to show that I’ve been doing my part,” Sweat said. “I just want to be consistent with my game and I’ll be happy just doing that.”
Though Sweat may have stolen the spotlight with his goal, his performance took nothing away from the Bulls’ defensive play. Junior goalkeeper Eric Osswald recorded his first career shutout in the win over SMU, a team that could only manage five total shots — none on goal — against USF’s lockdown defense.
“Holding a top-20 SMU team to no shots on goal says a lot to what (the USF defense) is doing,” coach George Kiefer said. “They’re also generating a lot of our attacks. They establish a rhythm, a tempo and they’re experienced.”
The Bulls’ two-game trek continued as they faced Tulsa on Sunday night to put a finish to the Hurricane Classic.
Six minutes after the start of the second period, USF broke a scoreless tie when sophomore midfielder Roberto Alterio hit the back of the net off an assist in the box from senior forward Kevin Olali, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
The Golden Hurricanes then put the pressure on USF with a long shot coming from freshman forward Abe Matamoros in the 71st minute.
As time wound down, the Bulls responded shortly after as sophomore midfielder Lucas Baldin nailed a penalty kick in the 79th minute, lifting USF to 2-0 on the weekend.
“I thought the team did very well playing two very tough opponents back to back, the second opponent being on their home field,” Kiefer said. “Getting two wins and being the only team to get two wins, I think, was impressive.”
The Bulls will now return home to host the USF Tournament, which will get started Thursday night at 7:30 against South Carolina.